The motivation of the project was to investigate the use of oxygen-challenge magnetic resonance imaging (OC-MRI) as a method of diagnosing foetal growth restriction. Foetal growth restriction is associated with restricted foetal oxygen supply and is also associated with increased risks of perinatal mortality and morbidity, and a number of serious and chronic health problems. Measurements of T2* relaxation time, an MRI parameter which increases with blood oxygenation, were made in the right lobe of the foetal liver in 80 singleton pregnancies, before and after the mother breathed oxygen. The groups consisted of 41 foetuses with normal growth and 39 with apparent growth restriction. The mean +/- SD gestational age at scanning was 35 +/- 3 weeks. Changes in foetal liver T2* on maternal oxygen breathing showed no significant difference between the groups therefore the OC-MRI protocol used in this study has no value in the diagnosis of foetal growth restriction. A secondary finding was that a significant positive correlation of T2* change with gestational age was observed. Future studies on the use of oxygen-challenge MRI to investigate foetal growth restriction may therefore need to control for gestational age at the time of MR scanning in order to observe any underlying foetal growth-related effects.
Morris, D. M., Ross, J. A. S., McVicar, A., Semple, S., Haggarty, P., Gilbert, F. J., Abramovich, D. R., Smith, N., & Redpath, T. W. (2010). Changes in foetal liver T2* measurements by MRI in response to maternal oxygen breathing: application to diagnosing foetal growth restriction. Physiological Measurement, 31(9), 1137-1146. https://doi.org/10.1088/0967-3334/31/9/005